Monday, June 16, 2014

Morin on "Indigenous Property and Territories in New France"

Michel Morin (University of Montreal) has posted "Indigenous Property and Territories in New France I. Territorial Control and Recognition of National Territories" and "II. Management of Hunting Districts." The articles appear in volumes 43 and 44 of Recherches amérindiennes au Québec. Here's the English language abstract:
In northeastern America, the pre-Columbian origins of aboriginal family territories has created controversy in the past among anthropologists, just as the possibility that Algonquian peoples devised wildlife conservation measures by themselves. At the beginning of the 17th century, however, the French had no difficulty recognizing the territories of Indigenous Nations who controlled access to the area and exercised a form of collective ownership over it. Their chiefs also supervised the use of these lands. With time, the King’s representatives tried to convince the aboriginal inhabitants, who they called "brothers", to grant each other the mutual right to hunt on each other’s lands. As was the case in Acadia, there existed in New France well-defined hunting "districts" that were exploited under the guidance of the head of a family band. Members from another band or outsiders had to obtain permission to hunt there, although occasional incursions without permission were tolerated. From 1660 on, conservation measures can be seen in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain regions. In the 18th century, these conservation practices are not documented for the North Shore of the St. Lawrence River, but it seems unlikely that Indigenous people did not have wherewithal to devise such measures on their own. Overall, this conception of territory and ownership seems to have an Indigenous rather than a French origin. It is based on the existence of national boundaries and well-defined districts, even though French observers did not attempt to describe these with precision.
The full versions are available here, at SSRN.

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